But I digress.
Since I had the itch to read (it being summer and all) but no new books in the queue, I found myself staring at my sister's bookshelf one night looking for something good. I wasn't even all that particular, it just needed to be good. So when I ran across Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies again I cracked it open right away and set to reading.
Didn't take me long to remember why it's been so long since I've picked this one up, because although it is good (very very good) the first section also leaves me a little raw, with all that talk of Death and Cancer. It's a bit much for this orphaned girl. But I plowed through and I'm so glad I did, because although Anne and I certainly don't ride the same political train I do find myself more or less eye to eye with her when it comes to spirituality. Namely, that I'm doing the best I can and thank God for the grace to get it wrong some times. Or, if you must know, most of the time.
I remember when Mom was sick and I had run out of rational arguments, absurd bargains, and desperate pleas, I took Anne's approach to prayer which amounted to nothing more than "Help." Every night: "Help. Please. Help." And although that didn't turn out quite like I had hoped I still pray that way today, particularly when I'm smart enough to realize that whatever it is I'm praying for is way bigger than I understand.
Big like, say, motherhood. Sara has created this nightly ritual, one where she has somehow convinced me that it's best for her to come lay down with me in my bed when it's time for her to go to sleep. And you know I'm sure there are a bunch of reasons why this is a terrible parenting move, but here's the deal: Before I know it she'll want nothing to do with me, so I'm taking it while I can get it.
On those nights when I don't fall asleep too, I often spend a few minutes just looking at her. It's the total Hallmark moment, right? I know, I know. I see your eyes rolling from here. But what are you gonna do? Hallmark makes a point, and in this case it's that time is passing far too quickly so I'm soaking up every last bit of her while I'm able.
My kid... my kid! I never knew. This head-over-heels thing is for real. She brings out the best and the worst in me (sometimes within minutes of each other). She makes me work harder than anyone or anything else. She makes me feel like Wonder Woman and like a complete idiot (again, sometimes within minutes of each other). I can never quite grasp that there is part of me floating around in there, in her DNA and in her memories and in her character. Honestly, how can that be? And as if that weren't enough? She loves me! Total, unfiltered, raw, honest love.
I think that God gives us children who are whole. Not completed, but whole -- like a brand new puzzle in a box, with all the pieces that fit perfectly together. We're bound to muck some of them up, but the goal is to keep all the pieces intact, and lock them together over time to reveal the unique, beautiful people that they are. David had it right in his psalm praising God's handiwork in the smallest details of our lives: fearfully and wonderfully made, known inside & out, crafted just as He planned.
And to think, it's our job to put the pieces together. Not lose any. Not bang up the edges too much by forcing the pieces where they don't belong. Not work out the easy parts and leave the tricky parts for someone else to deal with. Not chuck it all because it wasn't what we thought it was, or because it's just too hard.
Seriously y'all: HOLY. SMOKES.
So tonight, when I realized all of this and couldn't find the words I really needed to say, I asked God again: "Help. Please. Help." Help me keep her whole, fit together the way you've intended.